In the view of men and women in other places and other climes, he is the founder of sovereign Bangladesh. Journalist Cyril Dunn once said of him, "In the thousand-year history of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujib is the only leader who has in terms of blood, race, language, culture and birth been a full blooded Bengali. His physical stature was immense and his voice was redolent of thunder. His charisma worked magic on people. The courage and charm that flowed from him made him a unique superman in these times."
Newsweek Magazine has called him the poet of politics. The leader of the British humanist movement, the late Lord Fenner Brockway once remarked, "In a sense Sheikh Mujib is a great leader than George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi and De Valera". The greatest Journalist of the new Egypt Husnein Heikal (former editor of Al Ahram and close associate of the late President Nasser) said, "Nasser is not simply of Egypt and Arab World.
His Arab nationalism is the message of freedom for the Arab world. In similar fashion Sheikh Mujibur Rahman does not belong to Bangladesh alone but is the harbinger of freedom for all Bengalis." His Bengali nationalism is the new emergence of Bengali civilization and culture. Mujib is the hero of the Bengalis in the past and in the times that are.
Embracing Bangabandhu at the Algiers Nonaligned summit in 1973, Cuba's Fidel Castro noted, "I have not seen the Himalayas but I have seen Sheikh Mujib. In personality and in courage this man is the Himalayas. I have thus had the experience of witnessing the Himalayas". Upon hearing the news of assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson wrote to a Bengali Journalist, "This is surely a supreme national tragedy for you. For me it is a personal tragedy of immense dimensions".
In Europe, the outcome of democratic national aspirations has been the riseof modern nationalism and the national state. Those who have provided leadership in the task of the creation of nations or nation-states have fondly been called by their peoples as founding fathers and have been placed on the high perches of history.
Such is the reason why Kamal Ataturk is the creator of modern Turkey. And thus it is that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the founder of the Bengali nation-state and father of the nation of his fellow Bengalis. But in more ways than one, Sheikh Mujib has been a more successful founding father than either Ataturk or Gandhi.
Turkey existed even during the period of the Ottoman Empire. Once the empire fell, Ataturk took control of Turkey and had it veer away from western exploitation through giving shape to a democratic nation state. In Gandhi's case, India and Indians did not lose their national status either before or after him. But once the British left the subcontinent, the existence of the Bengali nation appeared to have been blotted out. But the fact is that Mujib provided wings to the wings less nation and freed them from the clutches of the western wing rule. His achievements are undoubtedly the achievements of a real political hero.
'But the unprecedented popularity of Bangabandhu within and beyond Bangladesh, his emergence as a world leader, his thoughts, ideology for a free, independent, golden Bengal, a democratic and secular Bangladesh could not make some vested quarters and individuals happy, who from the very beginning of the Liberation War in 1971 continued hatching conspiracies to overthrow him from power.
There were insiders who joined in such conspiracy to overthrow Bangabandhu. Among them the most notorious was, Khandaker Mustaque Ahmed, who was the Foreign Minister in Tajuddin Ahmed's Liberation War Time Cabinet in 1971. Khandaker Mustaque was a mole within Awami League and within the Cabinet of Bangabandhu.
He became the President after the killing of Bangabandhu on 15 August 1975. But the traitor Mustaque was not the lone player in the dirty game. Conspirators within the Army, powerful foreign powers and Pakistan, which never accepted the emergence and existence of Bangladesh joined in hands together, to defame Bangabandhu and his government with the goal of overthrowing him from power.
Khandaker Mustaque's conspiracy dated back from the time of Liberation War. Reports are there that he (Mustaque) contacted the US Consul General George Griffin in Calcutta and sent a message that if the US could arrange the release of Bangabandhu from Pakistan, he would try to convince the Mujibnagar government to call off the Liberation War and go for a federation with Pakistan.
Griffin who had doubts in Mustaque's credibility, was later declared persona nongrata in India and the conspirators later used Mustaque successfully to unseat and kill Sheikh Mujib. However, the main conspiracy to kill Bangabandhu was reported to have been hatched by a group of disgruntled army officers including Khandaker Abdur Rashid (a close relative of Khandaker Mustaque), Farookh Rahman, Shariful Hoque Dalim and others.
All of them had earlier defected from the Pakistani Army and later according to reports, became clear that they were in fact, the 5th columnists working in disguise for Pakistan. There was also reported involvement of a few senior repatriates who were unhappy as the army who had joined the Liberation War were given two years of seniority in job.
The conspiracies led to the brutal and heinous killings in the world history where the father of the Nation was gunned down, where his whole family members minus two young girls (Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana) were killed, including the 10-year old innocent child, Sheikh Rasel. Bangabandhu was killed and that too most brutally by the military, in association with several invisible collaborators.
It's indeed a dark chapter in the history of Bangladesh when the father of the nation was eliminated by a section of his own countrymen whom he loved and fought to give them freedom and a fresh lease of life from the hostilities of Pakistan. Never in a history of recent times, world has witnessed such a betrayal and treason by a group of his own people.
Bangabandhu was in the process of building up his infant nation inculcating secular ideals with progressive ideas and the new nation was marching forward towards new dimensions when his life was prematurely snuffed out. The perpetrators of his murder, foulest, were against secularism, liberty and democracy. It's largely perceived that the blue print of his assassination, aided by military might with tanks and artillery, was principally conceived and executed by extraneous forces who did not want Bangladesh become a secular state.
Pakistan can never escape the responsibility of its destructive role in run up to the liberation of Bangladesh. History will never spare Pakistan. According to the Political Secretary of Bangabandhu, one of the founders of 'Mujib Bahini' during the 1971 Liberation War and currently a leading Awami League Minister Tofayel Ahmed, "I don't have any hesitation to say that Pakistan was involved with this killing, international big power is also involved."
Pakistan has never accepted the emergence of Bangladesh. That we witnessed once again after the killing of Bangabandhu when Pakistan changed its diplomatic status towards Bangladesh. Just one day after Sheikh Mujib's assassination, President Bhutto of Pakistan announced that his country would immediately recognize the new regime and offered a gift of 50,000 tons of rice in addition to a generous gift of clothing. Was it mere killing of an individual person? By killing Bangabandhu, the conspirators and the killers, both national and international, wanted to establish the Pakistani ideals, many of them even were dreaming to be re-united with Pakistan.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Bangabandhu has recently said, "The 15th August massacre was not for only murdering a family, it was an effort to kill the victory of independence and the ideology with which Bangladesh was liberated in 1971 … those who couldn't accept Bangladesh's victory brutally assassinated Bangabandhu." Forces against the ideologies of Bangabandhu and Bangladesh were active and are still active.
In the post-1975 period we saw the return of Islamic parties including Jamaat e Islami and its leader Golam Azam who had never accepted the independence of Bangladesh, who did not want Bangladesh; saw abolition of secularism and repression on the minority communities in Bangladesh. There was a serious threat to secular democracy, not only in Bangladesh, but also in the whole region of South Asia.
Bangladesh today is the only country that has a secular government in power, starting from Turkey to Indonesia. Bangladesh is emerging as a powerful tiger. But conspiracies are on to destabilize the country. It is high time to further mobilize the public opinion in favor of secular democracy and continuation of the secular democratic process in Bangladesh where all, irrespective of faiths can enjoy their lives and freedom freely. Only then the true honor and respect will be paid to the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
(Courtesy: Bikash Chowdhury Barua). (Concluded)
The writer is an independent political observer who writes on politics, political and human-centered figures, current and international affairs.
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